Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day. When the boys were growing up, on this day they would go with their father, a Navy submarine veteran, and my father, an Army Air Corps WW II veteran, to a memorial service at the local VFW. Sometimes, they would drive to the Rock Island Arsenal, where there is a large national cemetery. The Arsenal would have impressive programs, with inspirational speakers and 21-gun salutes.

Memorial Day is also the official KICK-OFF weekend of the summer. It means the end of the school year -- and the beginning of sunshine, vacations and BBQ's. It's pretty easy to get involved in picnics, baseball games and a 30% off sale at the local mall....and maybe the purpose of Memorial Day gets lost in the shuffle.

But I'm going to spend some time today thinking about the young men and women who are willing to serve in the military to protect this country...both past and present. Every year, I watch the Memorial Day Concert on PBS and I cry for the families who lost loved ones. My heart breaks for the young widows and the soldiers who came home, maimed and disfigured. Because of their sacrifice -- America is the greatest, most compassionate country in the world -- and we enjoy opportunity and freedom that most people only dream about.

We should never take any of that for granted...and I am grateful...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Recycled ART OBJECTS exhibit

You already know that no matter where I go -- I enjoy checking out the OLD HOUSE TOURS -- the mansion tours, the Victorian B&B's, etc. If you're ever in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin -- be sure to visit the Seippel Homestead and Center for the Arts, 1605 N. Spring Street, Beaver Dam, WI.

During my recent visit, the art exhibit was "Hello Again -- Recycled Art". With their permission, I took lots of photographs. This exhibit was so much fun...do you know what this is? It's a room size mural made out of scrunched up plastic garbage bags....no kidding...



This beautiful little picture is made entirely out of used zippers...

And who would have thought about this? The artist drilled holes in small squares of tile samples -- then wove the chair back & seat. HOW CREATIVE IS THAT??
EVEN THE SIDEWALK becomes an art project at a place like this!! I always try to zoom into the Sieppel Art Center when I am in Beaver Dam because there is always something inspiring to see.

No matter WHERE YOU GO this summer -- whether you're in a big city or a small town -- check out the local galleries or art museums...because somebody worked REALLY HARD to put together an interesting exhibit for you. AND THAT'S WHAT ART IS ALL ABOUT, EH?? Inspiration...you never know where it's gonna come from...!

This particular exhibit is running until June 13 -- so, if you're in the area -- RUN -- DON'T WALK. Line up a few girlfriends and make a day trip out of it. Or take your daughters or grandkids. Hey -- go by yourself, like I did. BUT PLEASE DO GO.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My friend Jeff

During our recent trip to New York City -- we hooked up with my artist friend Jeff. Jeff Lassiter is from my home town -- Princeton, Iowa. Actually -- when we met -- I was the bus driver and he was the nerdy 7th grader...

Jeff moved from Chicago to New York City last year -- and he knows ALL THE BEST SPOTS...Like, for example, Serendipity -- the famous store on 60th Street -- (near Bloomingdale's) that serves FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE. No kidding...

For the record, I'd like to say it took THREE OF US to finish off this humongous, delicious, outrageous chocolate fantasy treat...(Ann is taking the picture).

At some point, it struck me funny that during lunch -- THE THREE OF US were all getting beeped and tweeted on our cellphones...so I made both Ann and Jeff pose with me for a picture -- yes, Ann has the best phone. She is a lucky I-phone girl..

GREAT, GREAT DAY, JEFF. Thanks for taking the time to spend the day with me and be my OFFICIAL NEW YORK CITY TOUR GUIDE...

You rock...

And -- hey -- HERE'S A BLATENT PLUG for The Art of Jeff Lassiter! Check it out on Facebook and become a fan!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Nancy Zieman's Sewing Studio

As you know -- Mary and I were invited to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin for Nancy's Sewing Weekend. A FABULOUS EVENT...

Because Beaver Dam is less than a 4-hour drive for me -- I went in my car. So I didn't have to worry about editing my samples down to fit into a 50-pound suitcase to fit on a plane. However, after FILLING THE CAR -- I still managed to forget a few key samples at home. So, I went to Nancy Zieman's sewing studio to ACTUALLY SEW...here I am, obviously delighted to be using Nancy's Baby Lock Ellisimo to sew a 10" seam on my wearable-towel-wrap...

This was on the first day of the show -- and I wore my recycled jeans from EXPO for the morning "Shop and Dine with the Ya Ya Sisters Goodwill" event.

This is me and the Hey Rita tote -- using Nancy's cutting table and tape measure. I asked my friend Deanna to take the pictures. AREN'T THEY WONDERFUL? No kidding...I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my little point-and-shoot camera that did such beautiful pictures and also little videos...

However -- moments after this picture was taken, I DROPPED my little camera and broke it. Darn it all...So, now, I am in the process of learning how to use my NEW LITTLE CAMERA...and I can only say THANK GOD I have at least 1000 pictures on my computer from the little old camera...Because the learning curve is huge...

But -- HEY -- Thanks, Nancy and Deanna for allowing me to use the beautiful SEWING STUDIO. I'm glad that -- IF I HAD TO BREAK SOMETHING THAT DAY -- it was my camera and not any of Nancy's sewing equipment!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

THANK YOU CLARE

Okay -- in the interest of FULL DISCLOSURE -- I have been traveling almost since Expo happened. Spring 2010 has been CRAZY. You've seen some of it -- my trips to visit Lillian in Wisconsin, going to New York City with Ann & Ryliss, Ya Yain' in Beaver Dam...then, there was a big trip back to Puyallup for the 2011 Planning meeting -- and, most recently, the 2010 Spring International Quilt Market in Minneapolis. (after that show, I took a little road trip to visit my son Ross in Baxter, Minnesota and then over to see Mary and have lunch with her and her fiance, Doug)...WHEW...

So -- HOW DO THESE DAILY POSTS HAPPEN?? First of all, I'm a genius, (hey -- a girl can never hear that too much!). Secondly, Blogger makes it easy...sort of...

I write posts whenever I have a little inspiration -- and I set them up to post automatically. ISN'T THAT FUN??

But -- although it may look like I'm home -- I'm really not here. So, when my youngest Expo fan sent me a package -- I didn't even know it. Believe me -- "getting the mail" ain't the daily activity it used to be. We live in the country -- and have to DRIVE to our mailbox. My daughter-in-law, Emily, refers to "getting the mail" as a semi-annual event...lol...

Here's a picture of me and Clare...the GIFT-GIVER -- with her Mom, Jolene...


My two favorite blogging buddies, Bonne & Jan, have enlisted Clare to bring a young eye to their Expo-Challenge-Sewing next year. I can't wait to see what they've cooked up with her.

In the meantime -- I am DELIGHTED with my new zebra-striped yarn scarf!! THANK YOU, CLARE!! You are too good to be true...

Because the picture they've been using in the Expo newsletter makes me look like Jabba the Hut -- I'd like to have a NEW HEAD SHOT -- and my plan is to use my new black & white scarf to cover up my double chin!!

As soon as I manage to get A NEW PICTURE OF ME, wearing my NEW ZEBRA SCARF -- I'll post it on the blog!!

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, Jolene and Clare!! We'll see you at the show next year -- and, again -- please accept my apologies for the DELAYED thank-you!! (clearly, I don't receive many gifts in the mail, eh?)

NYC Takashymia Lunch

Are you tired of my NEW YORK CITY posts?? Sorry...I just can't get enough of it...and there is always SO MUCH to see and do. We CRAMMED each and every day with action. And I took as many pictures as I could -- like this advertising campaign -- which was all over town. Different words in the windows...funny, eh? The sad thing is, I have NO IDEA what they were advertising...??

I took Ann to the very upscale Japanese department store next to Trump Tower -- Takashymaya. We ate in their little basement cafe...an incredible box lunch...

I think even Ann was impressed...(and she's from HAWAII)...

Sadly, the Takashymia store is closing in June. One more victim of the "new economy", y'know...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Boomers & Technology

I am a proud Baby Boomer -- and we Boomers LIKE being on the "edge". In our liftime, music went from vinyl records to 8-track, to cassettes, to CD's and now totally digital -- with Ipods and MP3 players...

I spend 6 hours a day on a computer -- and I have mad skills. If I can't figure it out -- I TAKE A CLASS. I've been taking classes for years -- and in the last year, I figured out blogging and digital photography -- and it has all been a GOOD thing. Instead of dozens of rolls of undeveloped film -- I actually take pictures, file them on my computer, and frequently POST them in this blog.

But I've hit the wall. I'm done. My brain has absorbed all it can. And somebody with a little common sense has to say ENOUGH ALREADY. We need to all sign a piece of paper that says technology has GONE FAR ENOUGH!! Really. NO MORE. DONE... I've reached my limit...

Hey -- I'm no techno-phobe! At this point in time -- we rarely even bother to "check the mail" because we do everything online. We pay our bills, I keep in touch with friends... Instead of the Post office dropping Saturday delivery -- I think they should make Saturday the ONLY day they deliver. Emily calls bringing in the mail our "semi-annual event".

Boomers embrace new technology. We BUY EVERYTHING....which means, in our lifetime, many stereo systems, dozens of PHONES, cameras, VCR's, then DVD players, three or four generations of computers...every single thing has a learning curve. And sooner or later -- WE GET IT...

But I am officially DONE.

In January, John had to have a new flat screen television...we could no longer live without HIGH DEF....

Okay. this means a box must be hooked up between our television set and our cable company. I just about had it figured out when Elliott & Ross gave me a fancy "entertainment system" for my birthday. This new DVD player has six speakers -- and IT all must be hooked up with the new flat screen television and cable box...

You realize there are now three remotes -- right?

So here's where we're at right at this minute.

After several hours of frustration last night, with John giving me yet another "lesson" in how to use the various remotes to combat the dreaded blue screen of death that says "no signal"....he finally got it all coordinated again...(it was all about components and inputs)...when he said, "we're just going to have to leave the TV on 24 hours a day"...

And he wasn't even laughing...

So now you understand the dull blue light inside the windows of the Assisted Living complex in your town...it's old people -- afraid to turn off their television sets when they go to bed at night...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lissa Kucher Update

Here's a picture of Lissa and her Mom at the fund raiser last January. She designed the brown t-shirt with the words, "Fight Like A Cowgirl" on the front...



ANd -- you may remember that it was Lissa's shirt that inspired my cowgirl outfit for the Pink & Red Charity fashion show...shown here with the official Ya Ya Stalker team of Judy & Chris....

My sewing friend, Gail Brown, sent TWO BIG BOXES OF HATS that she had made for Lissa...unbelievable...Gail designs and sews hats of all kinds for women going through chemo...the hats came in a box, with a card from Gail, every hat was in it's own little ziplock bag..

Gail looked at pictures of Lissa and made the hats to fit her personality and coloring....AND one of the hats even has an attached "pony tail".

YOU ROCK, GAIL...

With the note, Gail said she hoped Lissa would feel free to give the hats she didn't use to other women Lissa meets at her chemo treatments.

Lissa is at that "soldiering on" point of her treatment. There have been some horrific side effects from the chemotherapy -- but, hopefully, she is through the most difficult time. She continues to work when she can, and has done a remarkable job of keeping up with her horse clients which involves a heavy travel schedule. She is intent on being the BEST horse chiropracter ever.

Thank you for asking about Lissa. I'll continue to update you. Laura -- I'm glad you're through your surgery and on the mend. You have been especially kind and encouraging for Lissa. Gail -- she adored the pony tail hat -- as I knew she would. Once again -- I am completely blown away by the generosity of women who sew. You are, as a group, the most giving people in the world. I am absolutely sure of it...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Baby chicks

We live in the country and we like having a few chickens so we can have fresh eggs... John ORDERED the chickens on the internet -- and they send them via the US Post Office...no kidding...isn't this packaging amazing??

John was golfing on the day they arrived -- so I had to go to the Post Office to pick up the chicks....

Then, I had to take each chick and dip her beak into the water...(they're not that bright)...

But they certainly ARE CUTE!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Clayton's Baptism Outfit

My sister Deena, with TWO little boy babies (born thanksgiving weekend -- remember?) recently sewed a white baptism outfit.

Here's a picture of Clayton trying on his new outfit. He has doubled his size in the first three months! WAY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, LITTLE BUDDY!!


Deena made a little pair of shoes -- from a free pattern she got off the internet. These shoes have become an obsession for me...



Just in case you didn't quite grasp the cuteness of Clayton...here's another picture. He almost ALWAYS has a smile on his face...

But at this moment, if he had a word balloon over his head, it would say, "white satin? WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?? How often is this going to happen? What other strange customs must I endure?"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

25th Anniversary of Nancy's Sewing Weekend

On our very first night in town -- a woman GAVE MARY THIS PONCHO. Made out of the disposable plastic shopping bags from "Nancy's Sewing Weekend"...it's Mary's 90-minute poncho pattern -- with her NAME embroidered on the front pocket...no kidding..

Nancy's Notions turns their busy warehouse into a RETAIL STORE -- for this fabulous once-a-year-event -- I took this picture from our vantage point -- early in the morning -- on the main "stage" --

Some of the very competent STAFF...having a good time with the rest of us...

Some early birds at our "Shop & Dine with the Ya Ya Sisters" event...

At the Ponderosa portion of our day -- we SPOTTED MISTY -- THE WOMAN WHO MADE THE PONCHO FOR MARY...

You sewing ladies are just TOO MUCH FUN...thanks again for playing our sewing game.
We had a GREAT TIME...and it was a delight to be asked to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Nancy's Sewing Weekend in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Meredith's New Acccessory

I've been saving this moment...and waiting until just the perfect day to PUT UP THIS PICTURE from my recent trip to New York City...

Remember the morning I got the Hey Rita tote ON THE TODAY SHOW?? Well, that was pretty special for me -- that's for sure. AND this moment was very special, too...



I think it was very considerate of Meredith to wear the EXACT RIGHT COLOR coat to go with the Hey RITA TOTE...

I'll probably have this picure framed -- after I have it BLOWN UP to ACTUAL LIFE SIZE. THEN I'll proudly hang it on the living room wall...

THANKS, MEREDITH...YOU ROCK...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cleanliness is next to??

You've met my cousin Kim. Here we are, again, in a picture involving aprons...we are both excellent cooks...(although Kim is a professional).

When our children were small, we were neighbors and our husbands were working "second shift". We both looked forward to our daily-Five-O-Clock-Visits...

Hey -- I'm not telling you anything! Sisters, cousins, girlfriends...IT'S HOW WE GET THROUGH...




THIS is a picture of Kim's daughter, Carrie, now raising her own children...pictured here with Elizabeth. It seems like just yesterday, Kim was putting that bow in Carrie's hair, y'know??

When she was 14 years old, Carrie was my cleaning lady. She is energetic, hard working and extremely organized. She LOVES to polish and shine stuff -- and during my 'SPRING 2010 GIANT PURGE -- I begged her to come back to help me.

I'd hit the wall. Because Carrie has no emotional attachment to any of my junk -- in the last month, approximately one ton of "STUFF" has gone into the dumpster or to the local Goodwill store. She is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G...

Hey -- everybody needs a little help now and then! And I am a BIG FAN of hiring somebody to do the things you're not good at. Really. I can pay people to work on my car, right? We all pay people to do certain things -- whether it's taxes, roof repair or long arm quilting. But, for some reason, there is a load of GUILT involved if we pay somebody to clean our house. Like that particular skill should be part of our genetic female DNA...

AND -- if your house is messy, you are judged. It's just that simple. "Cleanliness is next to godliness".

GET OVER IT!!

I DON'T ENJOY CLEANING. SO WHAT?? NOBODY judges you if you're not good at math or don't like to do plumbing...but, if you're no good at keeping an orderly house -- you are somehow judged "less than worthy"...

Hey -- I am delighted to PAY SOMEBODY TO HELP ME CLEAN MY HOUSE. And it feels GREAT...!!

Last week, 2-year old Elizabeth came to help us. We gave her the job of throwing things down the laundry chute....She was so adorable -- inquisitive and curious -- it made the time fly...

Today, I'm traveling to Minneapolis for the Spring Quilt Market where I'll be working in the Schmetz Needles booth. And Carrie and Elizabeth are at my house in Princeton, Iowa -- spring cleaning my kitchen...

Life is good...



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The PLAZA

Whenever I am lucky enough to be able to show anybody around New York City -- I take them to the ICONIC locations. Like, for example, the Plaza Hotel. It recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation...and it is simply AWESOME.


Now, whenever Ann Sagawa watches the movie, "The Way We Were" -- she can say "I WAS THERE"...RIGHT ON THE SPOT WHERE BARBRA STREISAND TOUCHED ROBERT REDFORD'S HAIR...


We went downstairs, to the very expensive boutiques...and I thought the Hey Rita tote would be the perfect accessory for this little Versace gown...

We walked through the fabulous lobby, and gawked at the lavish furnishings of "Palm Court" -- with the incredible glass ceiling. The PLAZA is one of those iconic New York City places, and it was a pleasure to see it through Ann Sagawa's eyes...WE LOVED IT...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MySkutch.com

Okay, okay -- this is sooo exciting!! On my last day in New York City -- AS YOU KNOW -- I stood for 2 1/2 hours to get the Hey Rita tote on the TODAY SHOW. My place "on the fence" was right next to Edward Vollrath -- who invented "My Skutch". To read his story -- go to the website: myskutch.com


In this picture, you see Meredith wearing the yellow skutch on camera. DID YOU SEE HER?? This was such a thrilling moment for Ed...he's risked everything on bringing this product to the market...and I was soooo delighted when Meredith put it on....
In the next picture, you see Edward and his cousin Phil (I think) -- they brought gift bags (with two skutches each) for everybody -- Matt, Meredith, Al and Ann. And they waited patiently for their "turn"...hoping against hope that they'd get the "skutch" on the air...

I never thought about that before. How many people get up before dawn to go to the TODAY show -- because they've risked everything they own for an invention they are passionate about. And this is their best chance...maybe their last hope...

It was a thrill for me to meet Ed that morning and root for him. Please go to his website and read his inspiring story. AND -- the Skutch is made out of a very high quality fleece -- and you can EMBROIDER absolutely any logo, name, or message on it. So, check out his website: MySkutch.com

Because of meeting Ed -- in the future -- when I'm watching the TODAY show -- if I see people trying to get their products on the show -- I'll think about the years of hard work they've put into the thing...and I will BE ROOTING FOR THEM.!

p.s. INCIDENTALLY, Ed is selling the Skutch for only $34.99...and that is a TERRIFIC BARGAIN...you and I both know how much quality fleece costs!! So ORDER SEVERAL OF THEM -- they'd be great gifts for any sports fans, or in the winter, when we're all trying to turn down our thermostats!!

GO ED!!

PP.S. I am in Puyallup for the 2011 Sewing & Stitchery Expo Planning meeting. It is beautiful here...and I'm getting LOTS OF NEW pictures for the blog!! In a few days, I will post my very best picture from New York City...I'll give you a hint...it's somebody famous falling in love with the Hey Rita TOTE...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ellen's Stardust Diner

I love New York City. The people, the action, the theater, the museums, the garment district, the buses and subways -- I love it all. But it will be no surprise to you to hear that my absolute favorite place is Ellen's Stardust Diner on the corner of Broadway and 51st St. The truth is -- a diner is more my speed...I'm a simple girl at heart. The unique thing about Ellen's is that the waiters and waitresses all SING. And, oh, boy -- CAN THEY SING...!! These are the young men and women from all over the country who have come to New York to follow their dream.

But they haven't made it yet....so, they wait tables at Ellen's -- using their tip money to pay for vocal lessons, dance classes or acting lessons. They go to auditions when they're not working -- always trying to get OUT of Ellen's Stardust Diner. And many of them do. They end up in shows like Wicked or Les Miz...this is a picture of Ann...on our last night in New York City...at Ellen's.




The waiters and waitresses at Ellen's are young people with hopes and dreams and energy. I love that they took a a risk...moved to a big city...chasing their dream. TO SING ON BROADWAY. Which, of course, they do EVERY NIGHT!

Over the years, some of my most memorable musical moments have happened NOT sitting in a $100 theater seat -- but, having a milkshake at Ellen's Stardust Diner... if you watch this little video, you'll see what I mean...


video

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Burdastyle.com

In New York City -- on my MONDAY -- I ended up at one of my favorite spots -- Rockefeller Center! You KNOW how much I love this part of the city. But I have never had the privilege of actually visiting a REAL office...until this wonderful day...the shoes belong to: (from the top, clockwise)...Lynn Browne (Coats & Clark), Alden Davis (Burdastyle), Rita Farro, Carol Chow (Burda) and Ann Sagawa.




Here's a full body shot of the five of us: Rita, Ann, Carol, Alden and Lynn.


Coats & Clark offices are in North Carolina -- but Lynn happened to be in NYC for a color conference. It is fascinating to hear how they develop the color palette for thread, ladies. Maybe one day Lynn could be a guest blogger and let us in on the secrets of how they determine what color the future is...



We took the subway (Rockefeller Center has it's own subway stop!) downtown -- all the way to the Bowry. The Burda crew had reservations for Pulino's -- a fabulous New York City pizza place...the interior was SO MUCH FUN. Our table was actually made out of copper. Most of my pictures are fuzzy...but you get the idea...

One of my favorite pictures of the day -- Alden, standing in front of the Burdastyle "stash". Oh, yes, WE ARE SISTERS...!!

In a future post -- I'll tell you about the SURPRISE PERSON I ran into at Burdastyle...a Project Runway Designer...I squealed with delight...


Maybe you can figure it out if you go to their website. If you haven't already joined -- DO IT NOW. Burdastyle is THE hot spot on the internet for sewing action. They have a huge community -- and you can get lots of free tips and project ideas -- it's fun to follow the "challenges". And the one they did with us (for the 2010 Coats & Clark Charity Event) was the BIGGEST EVER...


Just wait to see what we're cooking up for next year, eh?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Midwest Ya Ya Sisters Goodwill Trip

Laura is our contact person at Nancy's Notions -- and she set up the half-day "Shop and dine" Goodwill tour with the Midwest Ya Ya Sisters...Mary & I started the morning on the stage, doing a brief presentation about all the many possibilities at the Goodwill Store...

Then, we put everybody on a school bus...


Many of the ladies had NEVER been shopping in a Goodwill Store...but they FIGURED IT OUT IN A HURRY...



Then, we put them back on the bus -- and went to the Ponderosa to eat a delicious buffet lunch!! NOBODY HAD A BETTER TIME THAN ME AND MARY...

Thanks again, Nancy's Notions, for playing our YA YA GAME...it was an incredible weekend! And as soon as I figure out how to download the pictures from my new camera -- I'll have lots more to tell you! (including how I broke my camera!!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Boring little wall lamp

This little lamp was a part of my giant LAMP GRAB at a recent auction...yes, I know it's ugly.

First, there will be some black spray paint...

Then, to redo the shade, I'll use peel-n-stick (I LOVE THIS STUFF) -- TO WRAP RIBBONS AROUND THE SHADE...

Yes, I need MORE RIBBONS...MORE COLORS...

When I'm doing something unpleasant (like CLEANING or walking on the treadmill) -- I treat myself with something creative as a reward or as a break. Here's how it works...I'll walk 1.5 miles, THEN I get to spray the lamp. Or, I'll clean the kitchen, THEN I get to sew another pair of baby shoes...

So, I'm chipping away at it...cleaning, walking, creating...one drawer, one mile, and one project at a time. 2010 has been a very productive spring -- and I can hardly wait to show you the FINISHED LAMP.

Altho, it just occurred to me that before I started the revamp of the lamp -- I forgot to put in a lightbulb to make sure it was working. Crap. Maybe it'll just be another art piece...with no function whatsoever....